Stop Illegal Hunting in Tolowa Dunes State Park

By
Sunday, June 6th, 2010

Take action now to stop hunting in Tolowa Dunes State Park.  The California Department of Parks and Recreation (Parks) is planning to transfer interest in approximately 1200 acres of the Tolowa Dunes State Park to the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG).  The asserted purpose of this transfer is to allow hunting on this portion of the State Park land. However, hunting is not a legally permissible use of State Parks land.

The proposed transfer of State Park land is being considered and Parks intends to proceed with this transfer without public review, without compliance with the environmental regulations pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), without application for a Coastal Development Permit pursuant to the Coastal Act, and without regard to the terms and conditions which apply for management of State Parks, including those specific to Tolowa Dunes State Park.

This proposed action is being taken because Parks refuses to enforce the law which prohibits hunting in Tolowa Dunes State Parks, and rather than be bothered with enforcement, Parks is poised to transfer the land to allow hunting in violation of the law.

Parks is prepared to act in violation of the law, without any public process, and the proposed transfer is politically motivated in that Parks senior management are apparently trying to appease Governor Schwarzenegger, who is in turn appeasing hunters who wish to use State Parks lands for hunting.  This is a major betrayal of the public trust as well as a violation of other laws.

It is widely understood that the people of California want our State Parks to be protected, accessible, and adequately funded. The notion that a state agency would give away public State Parks land is outrageous.

EPIC and other environmental groups are particularly concerned about the potential precedent involved in such an action: California’s public agencies should never contemplate a change in the status of State Parks land without public process, especially not a change as drastic as a transfer in ownership interest that would result in significant changes in management. The current decision-making appears to be happening behind closed doors. In this particular proposed giveaway, the dune ponds which are the focus of the proposed transfer are a unique cultural and biological resource being held in trust for all Californians, and their values should be carefully considered.

The area provides habitat for several imperiled species including the western snowy plover, California brown pelican, and tidewater goby. In addition, there are numerous popular trails that loop in and out and around the ponds; this part of the Park is a favorite spot with hikers, bicyclists, horseback riders, birdwatchers, naturalists and others. All public uses must be considered before a decision to transfer interest in such lands could properly be undertaken.